Read over Christmas Stoner - the book everyone seems to be reading, and The Secret History - a book I've never managed to finish, and watched again The Dead Poet's Society which years ago I used to show to sixth form English students. It seemed rather dated and overblown this time round. The theme of vulnerable youth and charismatic, destructive adults seems to be a perennial one, even more sinister when transposed to all these sexual abuse cases in the media. I still can't warm to The Secret History but then I'm not supposed to. The characters are essentially not likeable and I don't care about them. I find this very interesting. Does a reader have to care in order to commit to a novel? Well of course the answer is I have to care about something if I commit hours of my life to it - either the quality of the writing or the story or the characters or ... Quality of writing is enough. There are some books which are just exciting because they wake up all my nerve endings and I find language and ideas expressed in new and exhilarating ways.
Stoner had this effect. It was a relentless read but I was gripped as are so many at the moment by the sheer tragic doggedness of the man - and the way he stumbles into so much unkindness in others. And those beautiful words: And so he had his love affair...(or similar, I don't have a copy in front of me).